Friday, January 22, 2010

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is an amazing film, and perhaps the most forceful argument against U.S. presence in Iraq.

Through the film we watch three Army soldiers, members of an elite bomb-disposal unit. Staff Sergeant Will James comes to the unit when they lose their leader, and surprises the other two when he seems reckless and totally dismissive of them. James, while seemingly indifferent to death, has a real artist's feel for the explosive device, while Sanborn is a play-it-by-the-book guy who can't take the lack of communication, and Eldridge is the new guy, constantly afraid of dying or screwing up and causing others to suffer.

The team is a microcosm of any soldier's exposure to the dangers of Iraq. The film eloquently explains to us that no Iraqi is safe or even friendly unless they want something from the soldier. Every rock unturned could be an explosive device which endangers not only every soldier but also every Iraqi civilian. And that, in spite of the fact that each soldier, and especially this team, risks their life every day, no one on the Iraqi side cares or appreciates their efforts. And, in fact, most of the onlookers pose their own potential risk to the men: no one can be trusted.

We catch Bravo Company on its 39th day of current deployment, and we follow them to the day when they're shipped home. It's a grueling, fascinating and urgent journey. While I was watching, my heart rate never slowed down, I never lost interest, and I was in constant fear for these characters' lives. Actor Jeremy Renner, especially, is the point to watch. His fascination with each armed device, a fascination which sometimes hurls his comrades into mortal peril, is the focus of this film.

This film will surely be nominated for Best Picture of 2009. The violence is almost palpable, so watch at your own risk. This is war.

Thumb's up.


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